POSTED ON JULY 2, 2008:
The Advice Goddess
Husband and Knife
It took me two years to get a divorce from my husband, a jerk I was married to for only 13 months, after knowing him for just nine weeks. (I was 38 and increasingly desperate to get married and have a baby.) I basically gave up on "equitable distribution" because I ran out of steam, but he agreed in our divorce decree and in court, under oath, to give me $7,000 of his retirement monies. Two years and numerous legal letters later, he has yet to comply. Meanwhile, he just published his first novel and is doing readings at local bookstores. I'd like to show up at the last one, and when he's done, stand up and ask when he plans to pay me. So ... out of curiosity, what would you do? Looking forward to a pithy response!
Oh, are you?
Let's start by talking about my writing process. Much as I'd like it to involve afternoons spent in a silk dressing gown in a canopy bed dotting witticisms on vellum with a big quill pen, the reality is rather different: long sweaty hours crawling under furniture looking for better verbs -- when I'm not too busy trying to unzip my skin and run away screaming.
This guy just wrote his first novel, a feat on par with climbing Mt. Everest in a motorized wheelchair. I don't care if he snacks on kittens, if you're looking for justice, you have 8,758 other hours in the year to make your case. Of course, if this really was about getting what you're owed, you'd go about it in the most pragmatic way: dragging him back to court and garnishing his wages or bringing in a collection agency. Instead, you're about to make him hate you so completely that he'll probably do anything to avoid paying you, including ditching fiction writing (an endeavor typically less lucrative than picking lettuce) for a career in the fast-paced world of haiku.
As for your plan to hijack his reading, will you just be reciting your grievances, or should the bookstore put out a table for you so his friends, relatives, and groupies can line up to have you autograph copies of your divorce decree? If you weren't so deluded with rage, you might see that the person who's likely to come out of this the worst is you. At the moment, he's yet another first-time novelist clamoring for shelf space. Cue the cut-rate Heather Mills McCartney (that would be you), and he and his book might even make front-page news. Meanwhile, you'll have established a permanent resume for yourself as a vindictive, mouth-foaming shrew -possibly endangering your current source of employment, almost certainly impairing yourself in gaining future employment, and surely making you the last woman any guy with Google will ever date.
"Equitable distribution" after 13 months and no kids? To me, it's a wave goodbye. But, he signed off on giving you that $7K, so he should pony up. And sure, try to get it, but factor in how much that's costing you, and maybe shift your focus to having a future of your own instead of destroying his. If you ever loved him, how do you behave this way? For real resolution, look to yourself: If he's such a bad guy, why did you marry him? What did you refuse to see? Hmmm, perhaps that the correct answer to "How do I love thee?" isn't "I'm 38 and increasingly desperate to get married and have a baby."
Once More With Felon
My ex is getting out of prison soon, and I promised him (before meeting my boyfriend of a year) that he could stay with me until he's back on his feet. My ex says he just wants to be friends, but my boyfriend's worried a flame will rekindle. I used to be somebody who always tried too hard, but I've worked on myself, and I just want to be there for him as a friend.
Did you also say you'd wait with the car running while he went into the bank? You don't endanger your relationship for a promise you probably only made because you used to be a really big boot-lick. This isn't like taking in a roommate. This guy is not only your ex, but a guy who hasn't seen a woman in what, three-to-five? Also, prison isn't a big Holiday Inn with bars on the windows. Cons often need time to rejigger their reflexes so they don't respond to, say, an inadvertent elbowing in the supermarket with a well-placed shove in the gut. If you really are a recovering people-pleaser, prove it by making good in a way that's good for you, like tossing him a few bucks for a by-the-week motel-leaving yourself home free to play drop the soap with the one you're with.
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com.
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